Stalled energy projects cost California billions of dollars

16:07, March 11, 2011      

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California has lost 59.1 billion dollars and 142,000 jobs due to the suspension of 31 energy projects, according to a new study released on Thursday.

The study calculated the potential loss of investment and jobs in 351 proposed solar, wind, wave, bio-fuel, coal, gas, nuclear and energy transmission projects in 49 states.

This is the first empirical study to quantify the macroeconomic and employment impact of the regulatory barriers imposed on the development and operation of so many energy projects, said the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (USCC), which conducted the study.

The 31 stalled projects in California included the "Green Path North" proposal to build an 85-mile (136-kilometer) long power transmission line from inland California to Los Angeles.

The project, which was meant to help Los Angeles meet its goal of making renewable energy constitute 35 percent of its energy use by 2020, was stalled due to protests from environmental activists and lawmakers.

"The economic and job impact projections of this study show that millions of jobs, and hundreds of billions of dollars in potential economic value, continue to sit on the shelf," said William Kovacs, a senior official at USCC.

"The indirect and induced effects (what we term multiplier effects) would generate an approximate 1.1 trillion dollars increase in U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP), including 352 billion dollars in employment earnings, based on present discounted value (PDV) over an average construction period of seven years," said the study.

"Furthermore, we estimate that as many as 1.9 million jobs would be required during each year of construction."

Most of the projects were stalled or cancelled due to a broken permitting process, a system that allows for limitless lawsuits by opponents and "not in my backyard," or NIMBY activism, the study said.

The study called for reforms in the permitting process and other ways to speed up the development of the projects.

"Impediments such as regulatory barriers to energy projects can substantially reduce and impair private investment and job creation," the study noted.

"The longer it takes to get shovels into the ground and projects under way, the more expensive those projects become, owing to rising labor and materials costs as well as other factors, and correspondingly, the less confidence investors will have for successful project outcomes, a condition that will only limit the future competitiveness of the country," said Kovacs.

Source: Xinhua
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